The History of 30 Assault Unit: Ian Fleming's Red Indians, Craig Cabell

The History of 30 Assault Unit: Ian Fleming's Red Indians, Craig Cabell

30 Assault Unit was a small special forces unit formed to gather intelligence from just behind enemy lines during the Allied offensives in North Africa, Italy and Northern Europe. The formation of the unit was suggested by Ian Fleming, based to a certain extent on the exploits of Otto Skorzeny on Crete. Fleming them played a behind the scenes role in the success of unit, supporting it from London.

The first part of the book, looking at 30 Commando Unit in Africa and Italy is the strongest section. This starts with the original formation of the unit, looking at Ian Fleming's role in its creation, starting with his first memo of March 1942. Cabell then looks at the unit's first exploits, starting with an unsuccessful raid on Dieppe in August 1942, before moving on to North Africa, and the lessons learnt during these early operations, before following 30 CU on to Sicily and southern Italy.

The second part of the book is rather more uneven, mostly because the author has covered some of this material in an earlier book, and doesn't want to repeat himself (Operation Big Ben looking at Spitfire attacks on the V weapon sites and Ian Fleming's Secret War, looking at 30 Assault Unit and the V weapons).  The main part of this section covers forty pages, so in theory is on about the scale as the first, which takes 100 pages to cover the first two years of the unit's history,

A nice idea is the use of an appendix to deal with some of the less well documented material on the unit's involvement in the V weapon sites, which combines the scanty official documents, veteran's memories of these missions, and the links to Fleming's Moonraker, which makes repeated references to the V-2 rockets.

The result is an interesting study of one of the more obscure of Britain's many Special Forces units of the Second World War, well supported by interviews with surviving members of the unit.


Part 1 30 Commando Unit

1 A Good Idea Borrowed
2 Operational Duties
3 The Unit is Formed
4 Let's See Action
5 Deeper into Africa
6 30 CU Undergoes a Reshuffle
7 Cape Passero and Other Difficulties
8 A More Professional Unit
9 All Shook Up
10 30 CU Assessment
11 Southern Italy
12 An Admiral's Interrogation and its Consequences
13 Further Work in Southern Italy
14 Continuing the Good Work
15 Concluding the Mediterranean

Part 2 30 Assault Unit

16 Planning for Operation OVERLORD
17 D-Day
18 V Rockets
19 Paris and the Port of Brest
20 The V Rocket Vendetta
21 Conquering Europe
22 The Enemy Begins to Crumble
23 From the End to PAPERCLIP

Annex A From V Rockets to Moonraker
Annex B The Men of 30 Assault Unit
Annex C 30 Assault Unit Officer Profiles

Author: Craig Cabell
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 170
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2009

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